McIlwee and his partner, Bill Damaschke, are among the heroes who have restored their Lautner homes. Their house, with a roof that swoops to control strong sunlight, "was ruined when we bought it" in 2002, McIlwee said. "It's perfect now." The firm Marmol Radziner handled the renovation.
"The best thing we did," McIlwee said, "was live in the house a year before doing any work. Throughout the year, the sun has different positions, and with the glass and swooping roof, it changes the whole perspective."
"The living room is so crazy because during the day, you feel like you're outside," McIlwee said. "Then at night, the windows go black and you feel like you're inside again. The best is twilight time, when the sky turns a cobalt blue and the whole room radiates that blue. It's absolutely insane."
Mark Haddawy restored Lautner's Harpel house without using an architect. "I just followed the existing blueprint," he said. "I didn't reinterpret anything. I took away everything that had been changed."
It was a challenging job because the house had gotten a second story addition—which he removed. "It would have been great to have the space but I understood there was no way," Haddway said. "The second story looked like an apartment from Studio City had landed on the roof."
Frank Escher, co-curator of the Lautner exhibit, was architect for the restoration of the Chemosphere. "The house had several owners," he said, "and they all did terrible things to the house." Rather than a pure restoration, Escher made several improvements, including replacing mullioned glass windows with frameless glass for an unbroken view.
"Lautner always felt a house should adapt," Escher said. "It should change with the owner. But of course it has to be the right owner. I think of his houses as custom-fit clothing."
The Eichler Network handpicked this article's impressive spread of Lautner house photos, represented by the roster of accomplished photographers below.
• Chemosphere interior
• Chemosphere by night
• Elrod exterior
• Walstrom exterior
• Walstrom interior
• Garcia exterior
• Chemosphere exterior
• Elrod interior
• Elrod staircase
• Sheats-Goldstein exterior
• Sheats-Goldstein interior
• Harpel interior
• Sheats-Goldstein owner
Additional photography: Ramona Trent (courtesy Escher GuneWardena Architecture, Inc.)
Photo source credits: Joshua White photos courtesy Hammer Museum; Alan Weintraub photos courtesy Arcaid; Ken Hively photo courtesy Los Angeles Times; John Lautner portrait courtesy John Lautner Archive, Research Library, Getty Research Institute; Julius Shulman photo courtesy Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library, Getty Research Institute